Things to consider

Supplements aren’t meant to replace prescribed medication or other doctor-approved therapies. But they can be helpful additions to your care plan.

Although the supplements below are generally tolerated well, it’s important to understand how they may affect you specifically. Age, upcoming surgery, pregnancy, or other underlying health conditions can all affect your individual dosage. Some supplements are dangerous when taken in higher than recommended doses.

You should always check with your doctor before adding supplements to your routine. They can discuss any potential side effects or drug interactions with you.

It’s also important to note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate or monitor supplements like they do for drugs. You should only buy from manufacturers you trust, as well as follow any dosage information to a T.

Read on to learn how vitamins, herbs, and other supplements may help reduce feelings of anxiety and promote overall well-being.

Vitamins and other dietary supplements

If you’re already eating a balanced diet, this type of supplementation may not be necessary. But if you know your diet is lacking key nutrients, dietary supplements may be the key to symptom relief.

Although dietary supplements aren’t a replacement for the food itself, they can help you get the nutrients you need while you get your diet back on track.

Your doctor can also help you identify or confirm any deficiencies, as well as offer information on dosage and overall dietary health.

1. Vitamin A

People with anxiety sometimes lack vitamin A. Vitamin A is an antioxidant that’s been shown to help manage anxiety symptoms.

How to use: The average supplement dose is around 10,000 international units (IU), taken as a once-daily tablet.

2. B-complex

B-complex supplements contain all the B vitamins that your body needs. Many are vital to a healthy nervous system. They may also help improve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

How to use: Label dosages for B-complexes containing all B vitamins may vary. On average, dosages range from 300 milligrams (mg) to close to 500 mg. Either dose may be taken as one tablet per day.

3. Vitamin C

Antioxidants like vitamin C can help prevent oxidative damage in your nervous system. Oxidative damage can increase anxiety.

How to use: The average supplement dose ranges from 500 to 1000 mg. This may be split across two tablets or taken as a once-daily tablet.

4. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an important nutrient that helps the body absorb other vitamins. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to other vitamin deficiencies, which may compound anxiety and make it worse.

How to use: The average supplement dose may range from 1,000 to 2,000 IU. Either dose may be split across multiple tablets or taken as a once-daily tablet.

5. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is another antioxidant. Your body uses this nutrient up quickly in times of stress and anxiety. Supplemental vitamin E may help restore this balance and reduce your symptoms.

How to use: The average supplement dose is around 400 IU, taken as a once-daily tablet.

6. Fish oil

Fish oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are antioxidants. Omega-3 supplements like EPA and DHA have been shown to help reduce anxiety.

How to use: The average supplement dose may contain up to 2,000 mg of combined EPA, ALA, and DHA. Each dose may be split across multiple tablets or taken as a once-daily tablet.

7. GABA

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GAMMA) is an amino acid and neurotransmitter in the brain.

When there’s not enough GABA, anxiety can worsen. According to a 2015 review, supplements with GABA may help replace lost GABA, though more research is needed.

How to use: The average supplement dose can range from 500 to 750 mg. Either dose may be split across multiple tablets or taken as a once-daily tablet.

8. L-theanine

L-theanine is an amino acid. It’s a soothing property found in green tea.

A 2018 study showed it had antianxiety benefits in rats. A 2011 human study vouched for its calming benefits, too.

How to use: The average supplement dose is around 200 mg. This is usually taken as a once-daily tablet.

9. Magnesium

Magnesium is a necessary mineral for human health. Your body doesn’t need too much of it. But if you aren’t getting enough, magnesium deficiency may lead to anxiety symptoms.

How to use: The average supplement dose may range from 100 to 500 mg. Either dose may be taken as a once-daily tablet.

10. 5-HTP

5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a neurotransmitter. It’s a precursor to serotonin. That’s the “happiness neurotransmitter” in the human brain.

A 2012 study found that 5-HTP supplements may help with anxiety. However, these are most effective only when used in certain therapies, and by recommendation from your doctor.

How to use: The average supplement dose may range from 50 to 200 mg. Either dose may be taken as a once-daily capsule.

Herbal supplements

Certain herbs contain phytochemicals that may help ease symptoms associated with anxiety.

Herbal supplements typically come in tincture, extract, tea, or capsule forms.

11. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogen and Ayurvedic remedy. Some research suggests that it may be just as effective as certain medications in reducing anxiety.

How to use: The average supplement dose is around 900 mg. This may be taken as two 450-mg capsules taken one to two times per day.

12. Bacopa

Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) extracts are studied for neuroprotective activity, or protection of neurons.

A 2013 study found Bacopa could also reduce cortisol. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone. It can play a role in worsening your anxiety symptoms.

How to use: The average supplement dose is around 500 mg. This may be split across two tablets or taken as a once-daily tablet.

13. Chamomile

Chamomile comes from the Matricaria chamomilla or Chamaemelum nobile species. It’s widely accepted as a natural remedy for anxiety symptoms.

How to use: The average supplement dose may range from 350 to 500 mg. This may be split across two tablets or taken as a once-daily tablet.

14. Kava kava

Kava kava (Piper methysticum) is a plant from the Pacific Islands. It’s a traditional calming tonic.

One 2016 study found that it targets the GABA receptors that manage anxiety symptoms. In this way, it enhances your body’s own natural ways of managing anxiety.

How to use: The average supplement dose is around 250 mg. This may be split across two tablets or taken as a once-daily tablet. Daily use shouldn’t exceed four weeks.

15. Lavender

Lavender (Lavandula officinalis) has long been a soothing stress remedy. It has subtle sedative effects on the central nervous system that may also help with anxiety and depression.

How to use: Lavender tends to be found in anxiety supplement blends with other herbs. On its own, the average supplement dose is around 400 mg. This may be split across two capsules or taken as a once-daily capsule.

16. Lemon balm

A close relative of lavender, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) also has purported sedative properties.

How to use: The average supplement dose is around 500 mg. This may be split across two capsules or taken as a once-daily capsule.

17. Passionflower

Better known for its sweet passion fruit, passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is also a folk remedy for anxiety.

Researchers in one 2017 study found that it was just as effective as a mainstream anxiety prescription. A supplement or tincture of the flowers is said to work best.

How to use: The average supplement dose is around 500 mg. This may be split across two capsules or taken as a once-daily capsule.

18. Rhodiola

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) is a plant native to alpine regions. It’s been used as a nerve tonic and calming agent for hundreds of years.

How to use: The average supplement dose is around 500 mg. This may be split across two capsules or taken as a once-daily capsule.

19. St. John’s wort

The classic herb used for depression, St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), is also used for anxiety.

Current research suggests that it’s better suited for depression-related anxiety. How St. John’s wort may help other forms of anxiety requires more research.

How to use: The average supplement dose is around 300 mg. This may be split across two to three capsules or taken as a once-daily capsule. You shouldn’t take this alongside antianxiety medication, so talk with your doctor about how or if this should be added to your treatment regimen.

20. Valerian

Although valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is better known as a sleep remedy, it may also help with anxiety.

How to use: The average supplement dose is around 500 mg. This may be split across two capsules or taken as a once-daily capsule.

Supplements with mixed ingredients

Some supplements may not contain a single nutrient or herb, but a combination of them.

Some studies show that certain combinations may work better together than alone. If you want to give one of these a try, make sure you follow the directions closely.

21. Ashwagandha and Bacopa

These herbs are often used together in traditional Indian medicine.

A 2012 Ayurvedic study found both herbs were much more effective when used together. This was especially the case with Bacopa. It showed the least effect when used alone.

22. Bacopa and fish oil

As a traditional medicine, Bacopa is administered with food to be effective. This is because Bacopa is fat-soluble, and thus more effective when consumed with fats.

A 2017 study backs this up. Researchers found that Bacopa and fish oil were more therapeutic and neuroprotective for nerve stress when used together.

23. Chamomile and lavender

These two flowers are both popular sedative herbal remedies.

According to one 2016 study, chamomile and lavender are more effective at soothing stress and relieving anxiety when used in combination.

24. St. John’s wort and passionflower

Controversy over St. John’s wort makes it unclear whether it’s good for anxiety or not. However, some propose it’s more effective when used in combination with other herbs.

One such herb is passionflower. A 2011 study suggests that the herbs’ separate compounds may phytochemically enhance the effects of the other.

25. Valerian and lemon balm

Valerian and lemon balm are both proven sedatives — particularly when used in combination.

The bottom line

Although the research on supplements for anxiety is promising, be sure to check you’re your doctor before adding anything new to your treatment regimen. They can discuss any potential risks or side effects, as well as adjust any medications that may cause an interaction.

Your doctor may also be able to recommend other therapies and lifestyle changes to help manage your symptoms. Most supplements aren’t recommended for:

  • adults over age 65
  • women who are pregnant
  • children

If you do try a new supplement, carefully monitor the effects it has on your overall health. If you begin experiencing any unusual symptoms, such as heightened anxiety or stomach pains, discontinue use until you can talk with your doctor.